Arlington, VA

This regularly scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: What time of the year is most and least favorable for putting a property on the market for rent?

Answer: The rental market follows similar seasonal trends as the resale market in that spring tends to be the best time to list a property and the market is slowest during the winter months. For this market analysis, I looked at all rentals in Arlington from 2015 to 2019 (I kept 2020 out because it’s an anomaly) to determine how the month a property is listed for rent impacts a landlord’s negotiation leverage and the days on market. I split the data into apartment-style properties and detached/townhouse properties to see if there was much variability, but the trends are similar for all property types.

Best Months to List: March through July

Worst Months to List: September through December

The data I looked at to determine the best and worst months are the percentage of the final rental price to the original asking price (indication of how much leverage landlords have), the average days on market and the percentage of properties rented within two weeks of being listed for rent. These data points provide some of the best indications of how successful you will be renting a property at different times of the year.

While there are clearly certain months of the year that are better/worse to rent, I think it’s also important to note that the gap between the best and worst month(s) is not massive, but it’s enough that landlords should work to put themselves on a spring/early summer leasing cycle and avoid signing leases that expire in the late fall/winter.

If you are a tenant, you can expect the most properties coming to market from May to July and a dramatic reduction in options from October to December.

If you’d like to discuss buying, selling, investing, or renting, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected].

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to set up an in-person meeting to discuss local Real Estate, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at www.EliResidential.com. Call me directly at 703-539-2529.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with RLAH Real Estate, 4040 N Fairfax Dr #10C Arlington VA 22203. 703-390-9460.

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This regularly scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: Can I get proof that there are multiple/competing offers on a property?

Answer: The short answer is no. There’s no way to get absolute proof of another offer, except when an Escalation Addendum is used (which I’ll address later), but there are strategies to help determine how legitimate a listing agent’s claim of multiple offers is.

Ask Questions

There’s a myth that agents aren’t allowed to disclose the details of an offer to another agent when, in fact, it’s perfectly legal unless the seller declines it in the listing agreement (rare). When I’m told about another offer, I usually ask questions about the competing offer’s terms, how/when the seller will make a decision and anything else that’s relevant to the offer. In most cases, I’m able to judge with a high level of confidence whether or not the other offer is legitimate and the strength of that offer(s).

Situational Awareness

Here are a few factors to help determine the likelihood of multiple offers:

  • Days on Market: The highest chance for multiple offers is within the first week a property is listed, with the likelihood decreasing with each week that passes.
  • Price: If you think the list price seems below market value, you’re probably not the only one. In some cases, homes are priced slightly below market value to encourage multiple offers. It’s also important to understand buyer volume/demand at different price points. There are a lot more buyers searching Arlington for a $900,000 three-bedroom detached home than there are buyers searching for a $3 million eight-bedroom home, thus a much higher probability of multiple offers on the $900,000 home.
  • Market Conditions: In the current market, nearly every detached home or townhouse that is priced at, below or just above market value is getting multiple offers. Pay attention to data points like Months of Supply in the area/sub-market you’re searching to gauge supply and demand for a good indication of how likely multiple offers are.
  • Uniqueness: A unique home, with uniqueness coming from positive features like lot size/quality, has a much better chance of getting a lot of offers than a property that’s easier to find, like a 700-square-foot one-bedroom condo in the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor.

Of course, multiple offers can come at any time. I once had a listing that had one offer in over a year and then ended up with two offers on a random Monday. I couldn’t explain it, and it was certainly an interesting conversation with the two agents who submitted offers.

Risky Business

Made-up offers are a lot less common than you’d imagine because most agents understand how much riskier it is to negotiate using a fabricated offer instead of negotiating through strong counteroffers and honest negotiations. In the hundreds of multiple/competing offer situations I’ve been involved in, I’ve never once walked away knowing for certain an agent fabricated an offer and only had reason to think it might have happened a few times.

Proof via Escalation Addendum

If the seller chooses to accept your offer using an escalated price through the Escalation Addendum (allows you to automatically beat another offer, up to a maximum price), they must provide “a complete copy of [the] other offer used to justify the escalated sales price.” This is the only contractual obligation a seller/seller’s agent would have to provide proof of a competing offer and the requirement is only to provide proof of the offer used to justify the price escalation, not all offers.

Like most real estate decisions, deciding whether to believe information about a competing offer comes down to a risk-benefit assessment based on the information available to you. The risk of not trusting it could mean losing out to a better offer that proves to be legitimate. The benefit is potentially securing the home at better terms by ignoring the information about a competing offer. I think that helping you (the buyer) understand these risk-benefit scenarios and make decisions about them is one of the most important roles an agent plays in the transaction.

If you’d like to discuss buying, selling, investing, or renting, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected].

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to set up an in-person meeting to discuss local Real Estate, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at www.EliResidential.com. Call me directly at 703-539-2529.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with RLAH Real Estate, 4040 N Fairfax Dr #10C Arlington VA 22203. 703-390-9460.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: How much more can I expect to pay for a five-bedroom house compared to a four-bedroom house?

Answer: The primary criteria for most buyers is the number of bedrooms, so this week we will break down the cost of detached and condo housing in Arlington by bedroom count. The dataset includes all closed sales since January 1, 2020, except a $45 million sale, River Place Coop and age-restricted housing.

Below are some highlights from the data:

  • For detached homes, the biggest price jump is from four bedrooms to five, with an average price increase of 33.1%.
  • The best value for a detached home, with the lowest cost per bedroom, is a four-bedroom house.
  • Larger homes are much harder to find in South Arlington, with just 58 homes with five or six bedrooms sold since 2020 compared to 353 sold in North Arlington.
  • Nobody builds smaller homes anymore. Of the sold homes built within the last 20 years, zero had two bedrooms, three had three bedrooms, and 33 had four bedrooms compared to 141 and 64 with five and six bedrooms, respectively.
  • Smaller, more affordable homes sell faster with approximately 70% of two- and three-bedroom detached homes selling after just one to 10 days on market compared to approximately 40-45% of five- and six-bedroom detached homes.
  • For condos, going from a two-bedroom to a three-bedroom adds 78.1% and is even more expensive in North Arlington, nearly doubling the cost
    The number of three-bedroom condos sold is less than 10% of the number of one-bedroom and two-bedroom units sold.
  • If you are looking for a three-bedroom condo on a budget, focus on South Arlington, where the average comes in under $550,000 compared to over $1.7 million in North Arlington.
  • Expect to pay about 20% more for a property (detached or condo) built in the last 20 years.

Hopefully this helps those of you currently searching for a home in Arlington or planning a housing search soon!

If you’d like to discuss buying, selling, investing, or renting, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected].

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to set-up an in-person meeting to discuss local Real Estate, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at www.EliResidential.com. Call me directly at 703-539-2529.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with RLAH Real Estate, 4040 N Fairfax Dr #10C Arlington VA 22203. 703-390-9460.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: How did Q1 compare to other quarters, and what does that mean for Q2?

Answer: The housing boom has been front-and-center in the national news cycle for about six months now, and Q1 blessed many homeowners and builders with amazing results, while inflicting similar levels of frustration on buyers.

Despite the national, regional and local craziness, the Arlington single-family home (SFH) and townhouse (TH) markets actually didn’t look that different in Q1 2021 compared to the last couple of (post-Amazon HQ2) years, so the pandemic-related housing boom hasn’t created nearly the systemic shock here as it has in other local markets like Fairfax County and Loudoun County. Months of Supply (measure of supply and demand) for SFH is down 36% YoY for Q1 in Arlington, but over 50% in Washington D.C., Fairfax County and Loudoun County with Loudoun County SFHs down an incredible 73.9% YoY in Q1.

Arlington Quarterly Market Performance

First, let’s take a look at a breakdown of the Arlington SFH/TH quarterly market performance, with some highlights bulleted below:

  • If you’re buying a SFH/TH that has been on the market for 10 days or less, prepare to pay an average of 2-3% over the asking price. 12% of buyers since 2020 have paid 5% or more over the asking price.
  • Since 2020, about two-thirds of SFH/TH properties go under contract in 1-10 days and only 21% have stayed on market for more than 30 days.
  • You can expect price escalations on hot properties to be even further above the asking price in Q2 compared to Q1, based on historical data. The only exception to this was in 2020 because Q3 functioned like Q2 due to a delayed spring market caused by the pandemic.
  • Expect about one-third of 2021’s SFH/TH properties to be listed for sale in Q2, the most of any quarter by a significant margin.
  • Among SFH/TH properties that went under contract in 1-10 days in Q1, the average sold price of those homes increased 11.8% over Q1 2020. Last year there was a 5.7% increase in average sold price of hot properties compared to Q1 2019.

Northern Virginia and Washington D.C. Market Performance Comparison

As noted earlier, the pandemic created a much sharper change in the real estate markets outside of Arlington because Arlington had already experienced similar changes due to Amazon’s HQ2 announcement in November 2018. Below are some charts comparing the SFH markets (and one comparing the condo markets) in Washington D.C., Arlington, Fairfax County and Loudoun County, with some highlights bulleted below:

  • In 2018 and most of 2019, Months of Supply for SFH in Washington D.C., Fairfax County and Loudoun County was 2-3x higher than Arlington (indicating a more favorable market for buyers). In Q1 2021, Fairfax County and Loudoun County had about half the Months of Supply as Arlington and Washington D.C., clearly a sign of buyer preferences for more space, lower $/SqFt and de-prioritization of commute time and walkability.
  • The most dramatic pandemic-related market shift for Arlington has been the condo market going from the most favorable market for sellers pre-pandemic to a near tie with Washington D.C. for least favorable, by a significant margin.
  • Fairfax County stands out for the huge drop in active SFH home listings, dropping from an average of nearly 2,000 listings/quarter in 2018 to less than 500 in Q1 2021.
  • The data suggests relatively little change in average prices in Q1 2021 in Arlington and Washington D.C., but I think this is more about the data composition than a reflection of actual pricing because everything I’ve experienced in the market suggests strong price growth in Q1 2021.
  • Median days on market for SFH has been below 10 days in all four markets since the pandemic began.

If you’d like to discuss buying, selling, investing, or renting, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected].

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to set-up an in-person meeting to discuss local Real Estate, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at www.EliResidential.com. Call me directly at 703-539-2529.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with RLAH Real Estate, 4040 N Fairfax Dr #10C Arlington VA 22203. 703-390-9460.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: Have you seen a change in demand for home pools since COVID-19 began?

Answer: In 2017 I wrote that for most homes in Northern Virginia (and the D.C. metro), having a pool had a negative impact on resale because most buyers see them as a hazard, unnecessary expense and/or inefficient use of yard. However, COVID has changed the minds of many buyers and caused demand for homes with pools to increase significantly.

Demand for Pools Much Higher in 2020+

Below is a look at the data (as of April 4, 2021) of homes sold with a pool in Arlington County, Falls Church City, Alexandria City, Fairfax County and Loudoun County since 2015. The numbers were pretty consistent prior to 2020, then demand clearly shifted in favor of pools due to COVID. All indicators improved significantly for people selling a home with a pool.

Demand Similar Across Northern Virginia

I broke down the sales data since 2015 between each Northern Virginia jurisdiction to see if certain markets perform better or worse on sales of homes with pools. It turns out that there’s not much of a difference on where you’re buying in Northern Virginia — the interest in pools seems to be relatively similar across each market. Note how few homes in Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church have pools.

Looking for a Pool?

If you’re looking for a house with a pool in Northern Virginia, I wrote an article last year breaking down what sub-markets you’re most likely to find homes with a pool for sale and the sales data for those homes.

Unfortunately, it’s incredibly expensive to build your own pool here. Most people are shocked when they find out what it costs to build a gunite (concrete) in-ground pool around here, which usually runs from $150,000 to $200,000 before additional patio and landscaping work.

I linked up with local Arlington landscape designer/expert Rob Groff, of Groff Landscape Design, to find out why it’s so much more expensive to build a pool here than elsewhere in the region/country. I also asked about a common strategy I’ve heard from homeowners to hire an out-of-town company to build a pool for less and pay for their travel/lodging during the project to save some money.

Q: Why is it so expensive to build a pool here?

A: It’s so much more expensive to build a pool here because permitting is more time consuming and expensive; materials and labor are more expensive; average lot size is smaller, which oftentimes causes problems; and engineering, municipal-related site preparation, such as construction entrances, super silt fence, site restoration, drainage, etc. are all a factor.

Q: Is it more cost-effective for homeowners to hire an out-of-town pool company who builds pools for less money and pay for their travel/lodging?

A: A lot of pool companies don’t include all expenses upfront and therefore there are a ton of surprise costs on the back-end of the pool project. I’ve seen this a lot, especially from out-of-area pool companies. We actually set up a spreadsheet and accompany some of our clients in the vetting process. We had a local company at $205,000 for a pool that a Fredericksburg-based company had at $145,000. By the time the meeting was over and we corrected the Fredericksburg company to make sure they didn’t leave anything off, they were up at $215,000.

Q: Are there more affordable options for in-ground pools that you recommend?

A: In Northern Virginia, a gunite (concrete) pool has been the standard for a long time. On average, we see these coming in at $150,000 to $200,000 in Northern Virginia (not including the pool patio and other surrounding elements like landscaping, lighting, etc.). Fiberglass pools are growing in popularity and their base price is closer to $55,000 to $65,000 (River Pools and Spa). These fiberglass pools don’t feel the same to many homeowners as a true gunite pool, but they save enough money to make people consider them. There are a ton of good videos on their website that explains the differences between gunite and fiberglass, etc.

If you’d like to discuss buying, selling, investing, or renting, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected].

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to set-up an in-person meeting to discuss local Real Estate, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at www.EliResidential.com. Call me directly at 703-539-2529.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with RLAH Real Estate, 4040 N Fairfax Dr #10C Arlington VA 22203. 703-390-9460.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: Can you do an update of your 2017 article on the cost of land in Arlington?

Answer: In 2017 I took a look at a dataset focused on the cost of land in Arlington and lot sizes, so let’s take a look at these numbers a few years later and see just how much more expensive it is to snag a square of grass here.

Since 2017, the average lot size on all single-family homes (SFH) sold is 8,515 square feet or about .2 acres. Only five of the 4,428 SFH sold had 1+ acres, with none over 1.15 acres. Just 1.6% of sales were homes with a half acre or more. Even more, 82.4% of SFH sold since 2017 sat on one-tenth to one-quarter of an acre. (For context, one-quarter of an acre is about 11,000 square feet).

The chart below breaks down the average lot size and standard deviation of lot sizes by Arlington ZIP code based on sales of SFH since 2017. I also added two columns looking at the average cost of a new SFH in each ZIP code based on 2020 to 2021 sales. ZIP codes 22206 and 22209 didn’t have enough SFH sales to provide good data.

It’s not easy to determine the average cost of homes that get torn down or have a major remodel, so I used the same methodology as I did in 2017 and looked at the cheapest 15% of sales in each ZIP, by year, and assumed that these represent sales that were completely or mostly valued for the land. The chart below shows the average cost of the cheapest 15% of SFH sold in each ZIP, by year. The second chart is the same dataset but looks at the cost per square feet of the lot.

The biggest downside of this methodology is that it’s not capturing sales of the best lots in certain ZIP codes, but I think this approach does a pretty good job of capturing average values for most sales where the lot was the entire or majority of the value.

Lots in 22201 are by far the most expensive per square feet because they’re both expensive (highest average price for cheapest 15%) and small (third smallest average lot size by ZIP code, the two with smaller lots barely have any SFH lots).

While you’ll pay about $100K more for the average lot in 22207 compared to 22205, you’re most likely getting a larger lot so the cost per square feet of those lots ends up being similar. The cheapest lots are in 22204 (by nearly $150,000), but the best value, by far, is 22213 with the average lot just $67 per square feet.

If you’d like to discuss buying, selling, investing, or renting, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected].

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to set-up an in-person meeting to discuss local Real Estate, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at www.EliResidential.com. Call me directly at 703-539-2529.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with RLAH Real Estate, 4040 N Fairfax Dr #10C Arlington VA 22203. 703-390-9460.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: How has the market for high-rise condo buildings compared to low-rise/smaller condo communities through the pandemic?

Answer: The condo market began to turn last summer and got progressively worse through November/December but has improved slightly and stabilized a bit since December. The next few months will give us a lot of good information on whether the condo market will improve or if we can expect a rebalancing as buyer priorities shift more permanently due to their COVID experiences and new telework policies.

This week I took a look at some of the underlying condo market data to see if there has been a noticeable difference in how garden/townhouse-style (garden-style meaning low-rises of one to four stories) condo communities have performed compared to mid/high-rise buildings. I also broke down the condo market by bedroom to see if one-bedrooms have been impacted more than larger two- and three-bedroom units.

Arlington/D.C. Metro Condo Market Overview

First, let’s take a zoomed-out look at the Arlington and D.C. metro markets. We are still experiencing a rush out of condos (see first chart, New Listings), with the D.C. metro and Arlington both recording record-highs in total condos listed for sale in January and February. The reasons for this range from people seeking more space/yard to investors unable to find tenants.

Months of Supply (measure of supply and demand) shown in the second chart shows us that Arlington experiences a slightly worse (for sellers) condo market than the D.C. metro overall after experiencing a much stronger market from late 2018 to early 2020 in the wake of Amazon’s HQ2 announcement. Both markets have shown signs of stabilizing over the last few months after getting progressively worse each month in the second half of 2020.

Garden/Townhouse-Style vs. Mid/High-Rise

The overall Arlington condo market is sitting at about 2.25 Months of Supply, still well below the 6 Months of Supply deemed by economists to be a balanced market for buyers and sellers. As of this writing, the mid/high-rise market has about 2.6 Months of Supply and the garden/townhouse-style condo market is sitting at 1.3 Months of Supply, making it a pretty good market to sell into.

Historically, the garden/townhouse-style market has performed better (faster sales, more competition/seller leverage) than the mid/high-rise market so the difference in Months of Supply doesn’t indicate a COVID-related shift. As you’ll see in the table below, the differences between the garden/townhouse-style condo market and the mid/high-rise market have remained relatively similar each year from pre-Amazon (2018) through the Amazon surge (2019) and now into the COVID-related pullback (2020).

Condo Market Performance by Bedroom Count

I also took a similar look at the Arlington condo market by bedroom count. Months of Supply for one bedrooms is highest at 2.5, followed by two bedrooms at 1.8 and then three bedrooms at 1.7. The early data for 2021 suggests that one-bedroom condos will suffer more in the market than larger two- and three-bedroom units, which makes sense from a COVID standpoint because most one-bedroom units don’t have a good dedicated office space.

I do expect the condo market to improve over the next few months as more people are vaccinated and warmer weather allows people to return to some semblance of a normal life — thus buying behavior that is more reflective of pre-COVID times. However, I think that how employers choose to handle telework long-term will ultimately determine whether we will experience a full return to the pre-COVID market or if we are going to see a more permanent rebalancing of condo values as commutes/convenience become less of a priority for buyers if they are no longer coming into an office every week.

If you’d like to discuss buying, selling, investing, or renting, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected].

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to set-up an in-person meeting to discuss local Real Estate, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at www.EliResidential.com. Call me directly at 703-539-2529.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with RLAH Real Estate, 4040 N Fairfax Dr #10C Arlington VA 22203. 703-390-9460.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: How many different real estate agents do business in Arlington in a typical year?

Answer: There were 2,770 real estate transactions in Arlington in 2020 (incredibly close to the 2,782 transactions in 2019!), totaling over $2.16 billion in total sales volume (up from $1.96 billion in 2019).

I think most people would assume a few hundred different real estate agents worked on those 2,770 transactions, but in fact, there were 2,223 different agents part of those sales (remember, most transactions have two agents involved). In 2019, 2,017 different agents transacted in Arlington so the numbers are very consistent.

I looked over the 2020 Arlington transaction data and pulled out some interesting highlights:

  • 61.4% of the agents who handled an Arlington real estate transaction in 2020 work on just one sale in Arlington. (They may have done more business outside of Arlington.)
  • Just 3% of agents handled 10 or more transactions in Arlington and 0.8% handled 20 or more transactions.
  • 1,452 different agents represented buyers in Arlington, and 19 of them (1.3%) worked with 10 or more buyers in Arlington.
  • 1,316 different agents represented sellers in Arlington and 29 of them (2.2%) worked with 10 or more sellers in Arlington.
  • Of the 858 agents who handled two or more transactions in Arlington, they averaged 4.7 transactions each.
  • Only two agents with 5-plus transactions averaged $2 million or more per transaction: Mark McFadden and Jennifer Thornett.
  • Keri Shull and her team once again led Arlington in transactions and sales volume, by a wide margin, participating in roughly 8.4% of the transactions in Arlington and handling about 4% of the total sales volume in Arlington. Keri, of course, has a great team of agents and staff supporting this activity. In an article I wrote in 2019, I explained how different agents/teams are structured.

Most studies suggest that consumers are less concerned with measures like sales volume and are more focused on the strength of communication and trustworthiness of the agent they’re working with, but market expertise and experience are still important factors for most people.

While some may see the low barrier to entry to real estate licensing and a high volume of agents as a negative, it also means that you have a lot of choices as a consumer and, with some effort, can make sure that you’re working with somebody who provides the type service you’re looking for.

If you’d like to discuss buying, selling, investing, or renting, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected].

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to set-up an in-person meeting to discuss local Real Estate, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at www.EliResidential.com. Call me directly at 703-539-2529.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with RLAH Real Estate, 4040 N Fairfax Dr #10C Arlington VA 22203. 703-390-9460.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: What design trends are you seeing this year?

Answer: Over the past few years, home design has turned from neutralized white/grey trends that have been popular for most of the last decade, especially in new construction, to include warmer colors and more natural looks, though these trends have yet to show up in most new construction projects I’ve seen (single-family and condo).

Each year, every design magazine, paint company and furniture store comes out with their annual design trends. I collected some of the most common trends I found across all of them, as well as those that I’m seeing show up more in homes in the D.C. metro, and compiled them into some fun graphics.

The impact of COVID shows up in a big way in many trends, including trying to bring the outside in (plants/indoor gardens and wood-grain kitchens) and getting more out of existing spaces (closet-offices and outdoor kitchens). Let me know what you think and if you’ve introduced any of these colors, designs or improvements to your home recently!

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: Are you able to tell how much of the appreciation in the overall Arlington housing market is from homes in the upper or lower price ranges?

Answer: I’ve often wondered if the appreciation in Arlington’s housing market is driven more by the lower, middle or upper end of the market. My theory, prior to doing an analysis, was that homes in the lower price ranges were appreciating faster than those in the upper ranges, thus affordability was suffering more than any other category of housing.

To test this theory, I split each year into a lower, middle and upper third and found the median price within each price range. (Note: The numbers for average prices looked very similar.) I split the market into single-family/townhouses and condos for a more accurate picture of actual market behavior.

As it turns out, for the single-family/townhouse and condo markets, the upper third of the market has appreciated more over the past 10 years than the lower and middle thirds. As is usually the case, single-family homes and townhouses appreciated much faster than condos during the same period, with single-family/townhouses practically doubling the rate of condo appreciation over the past 10 years.

Explanation of Charts: Appreciation and Market Speed

Below you will see charts showing the median price of the lower, middle and upper price tiers for single-family/townhouses and condos in Arlington over the past 10 years. I also included a chart showing the cumulative appreciation for each price tier to highlight when each market experienced the greatest price jumps or most price stability.

The last two charts show the same concept but applied to days on market. Specifically, looking at what percentage of homes went under contract within the first seven days on the market. I’ve always felt like this metric is one of the best ways to understand how fast the market is moving and the intensity of demand.

All three price tiers show similar speed/intensity of demand over the years, with the only noticeable difference being the upper third of single-family/townhouses, which is likely skewed by new construction. New construction often has a much higher days on market number because of how often homes are listed before they’re finished.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Answer: Thank you to the ARLnow reader who brought Virginia House Bill 1842 to my attention because it’s likely to be a game-changing law. This bill will allow condo boards to more easily ban smoking inside units and on balconies — not just in common areas. As of Feb. 17, 2021, the bill passed the Virginia House and Senate and, per my conversation with staff of the bill’s sponsor, Delegate Mark Keam, it’s now on its way to the Governor’s desk to become Virginia law as of July 1, 2021.

This is incredible news for many condo owners and residents who have suffered from the health and environmental hazards of a neighbor who smokes inside their unit or on their balcony. Over the years, I’ve written more about condo smoking bans than any other non-market topic because of how much interest and positive feedback I receive on the topic — so much that I hosted a panel discussion about it in 2019.

A full summary of the bill is shared below, but the key text from the bill includes, “…the executive board of a condominium unit owners’ association to establish reasonable rules that restrict smoking in the condominium, including rules that prohibit smoking in the common elements and within units…”

Under current laws, a smoking ban within units can only be done by way of a formal bylaw amendment, which can be overly burdensome for most communities and take years to see through. The only “easy” smoking ban allowed by law was a ban in general common areas. Even limited common areas (e.g. balconies) require a bylaw change under the current laws.

I am no legal expert, and I’m sure the language in the bill can be interpreted a number of different ways, but this bill seems to give condo boards/owners a very good chance of banning smoking within units. I’d love to hear from any readers who have the legal background to interpret just how likely or unlikely the language in this bill is to allow complete smoking bans.

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